KC Chiefs look to fill Poe’s big shoes and fill other spots in 2017 NFL Draft
APRIL 2017 – Unlike a year ago, the KC Chiefs entered the free agent period with far fewer question marks.
The biggest was resolved in March when All-Pro safety Eric Berry was inked to a deal which will likely make him a Chief for life.
The potential loss of Berry weighed heavily on the front office as well as the players.
“Eric Berry is the heart and soul of this defense,” said Chiefs defensive back Ron Parker after the 18-16 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “He means everything to this defense. I’d love to have him back.”
The KC Chiefs could not lose Berry.
“We’re going to have Eric Berry,” defensive lineman Chris Jones said. “I’m quite sure the front office will make something happen.”
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey did make it happen with a six-year, $78 million deal which was described as the culmination of a year’s work.
Unfortunately, there will be no more “Hungry Pig Right” as the team was unable to re-sign nose tackle Dontari Poe, who received a one-year $8 million offer from the Atlanta Falcons.
In addition, the KC Chiefs parted ways with iconic running back Jamaal Charles, giving him an early release so that he would have an opportunity to sign elsewhere.
Should the 30-year-old Charles decide to retire he would leave football with 7,260 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 yards per carry – one of the best marks in NFL history.
Backup quarterback Nick Foles also left the Chiefs, returning to Philadelphia on a five-year, $27.5 million deal, and Knile Davis went to the Steelers on a one-year deal.
In addition to Berry, Kansas City re-signed safety Daniel Sorensen, long snapper James Winchester and guard Mike Person.
To replace Poe, the Chiefs gave a one-year deal to Bennie Logan, a four-year pro out of LSU who was a steady, if unspectacular run defender for the Eagles. As such, he will replace most of what Poe brought to the team, although he’ll have to work on his throwing skill to match Poe’s 118.8 quarterback rating.
C.J. Spiller was also added to provide backfield. Entering his eighth NFL season, the 29-year-old former Clemson All-American was a good-but-not-great ball carrier for the Bills from 2010 to 2014, rushing for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, his only Pro Bowl season.
A broken collarbone put Spiller on the injury reserve midway through the 2014 season and he has not seen much regular duty over the past three years, spent with four different teams, 120 carries for 430 yards in that span. He is considered a good pass catcher and could be a solid replacement if the Chiefs lost Spencer Ware or Charcandrick West for any length of time.
The team still has a pair of restricted free agents; wide receiver Albert Wilson and placekicker Cairo Santos both received original round tender offers and are expected to return to the Chiefs.
With the exception of Poe, the team will be returning nearly everyone who had a significant role in winning the AFC West last year.
As a result, when preparing for the upcoming draft, the KC Chiefs will be looking at primary needs in just a few areas.
The most important holes to fill are at linebacker. Tamba Hali is in his twelfth season and missed all but three games last year and managed just 3.5 tackles. Justin Houston has missed approximately half of Kansas City’s games the past two seasons, while 35-year-old Derrick Johnson missed nearly all of 2014.
While Dee Ford has begun to live up to his status as a 2014 first-round selection with ten sacks last season and Ramik Wilson became a capable regular, this is still an old group who have been unusually injury-prone. It would be foolish to think they will be able to escape some kind of serious injury in 2017.
The need help at linebacker and the loss of Poe’s signal that the club should be looking at a run-stopping inside linebacker, either through free agency or in the draft.
Should they look to the draft, the best choices are Alabama’s Reuben Foster and Tim Williams, Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt, Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham and Florida’s Jarrad Davis. Foster is a top 10 pick that will undoubtedly be gone before the Chiefs pick 27th, but one of the others should still be on the board. Because of his size and speed, Cunningham might be the best fit for the Chiefs, while Davis would be a fine pick in the second round.
With Alex Smith entering his twelfth season and the backup quarterback duties in the hands of unproven Tyler Bray, the Chiefs should finally make a real effort to draft a quarterback. Past attempts have fizzled (Bray, Chase Daniel, Tyler Palko) or failed outright (Brodie Croyle, Aaron Murray), although none was actually given a real chance to win the job.
The last quarterback Kansas City drafted who won a game in a Chiefs uniform was Todd Blackledge, a 1983 first-round pick who won his last game at Arrowhead in 1987.
They will most certainly need an experienced backup QB in 2017, which they should find via free agency as they did with Foles last year, but perhaps now the KC Chiefs will get serious about actually drafting their own long-term quarterback instead of trading for one.
Among the class of 2017 quarterbacks expected to make the biggest impact are Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, all will probably be off the board by the middle of the second round.
Watson might be the most talented of this group, but is also the most volatile pick and probably not a good fit for the risk-averse Chiefs. Trubisky would be the safest pick here, should the team grab a first-round quarterback for the first time in 33 years.
If the Chiefs decide not to risk their first-round pick on a quarterback, the talent at that position drops off considerably. The best bets at the next level are California’s Davis Webb, Pittsburgh’s Nate Peterman or Brad Kaaya of Miami (FL), who would all be available in the middle rounds.
The need at running back is less acute as the Chiefs will mostly try to add depth through late-round picks. The primary decision will be taking a speed back, such as Wisconsin’s Corey Clement, or a bruising, straight-ahead runner like James Conner of Pittsburgh.
The KC Chiefs are also expected to draft depth at defensive back and on the offensive line.
With the notable absence of Poe, the 2017 Chiefs will look a lot like the 2016 version.
For more coverage of the Chiefs, visit: http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/
Article by Marc Bowman